Nexus S Lands, Will it sell?

Google’s long rumoured Nexus S has arrived, and by all accounts so far it’s a corker of a phone, but so was the Nexus One and very few people bought one, so will the Nexus S fair any better?

First the device itself, it has a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor and 16gb of on board memory (I’m old enough remember desktop PC’s with a tenth of that power), it also features a 4″ super AMOLED screen. Being made by Samsung, comparisons have been made with the Galaxy S, and hardware wise that’s not unfair, there are differences in looks though, the Nexus S is curvier and shaped to sit in your hand better.  There’s also the addition of near field communication – NFC – which enables the device to be used to make payments or book in to hotels and a whole load of other actions just by waving it near a terminal. This technology is in it’s infancy in terms of adoption, there’s not many uses for it yet but it’s interesting that Google have pushed it out,  maybe they have plans for using it for data gathering or serving ads?

The big difference is the OS, the Nexus S comes with a stock version of Android 2.3, unencumbered with the usual branding, “trial” software and other assorted bloat that hardware manufacturers and networks put on other Android phones to set them apart from the competition. Android 2.3 will not only bring the user experience closer to the slick, polished feel of iOS,  most importantly the lack of network and manufacturer interference will mean users get Android updates as soon as they are released.

But the question the industry is asking is will it sell? The Nexus One was a great phone, it was very similar to the HTC Desire and yet it sold only a tiny fraction of the number units. Given the similarity to the Galaxy s, will the Nexus S fair any better in comparison than the Nexus One did against compared to the HTC Desire?

The main reason the Nexus One didn’t sell was the unusual way in which it was sold, although it’s now available via the usual channels, early on it was only available sim free via google, you had to pay the full cost of the handset upfront and buy online without a chance to play with it first. Basically, to get a Nexus One you had to really want one badly.

The Nexus S will be sold through the normal outlets, it will be available through high street stores either sim free or on a contract, so in terms of the buying process it will be on a level playing field with the rest of the market and pricing is on a par with the iPhone.

Although all the early signs are that the Nexus S will be a great handset, what techies will no doubt consider the killer feature – the stock version of Android 2.3 – will probably pass most shoppers by. But if the speed and responsiveness of a clean version of Android can make the Nexus S performance closer to  iOS than other Android phones then perhaps it will gain the edge.

Google spun the low sales of the Nexus One by saying that it was only ever intended to showcase Android and not to be a huge commercial success, but the low sales were more indicative of the failure of the sales model than the phone. This time it looks like they’ve learnt the lesson and made it easier to buy a Nexus S, so my guess is that the Nexus S will do much better than the Nexus One.

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